I was craving healthy food with fresh vegetables, tofu and the likes after a weekend of sinful eating, so I decided to go to the Naam as it is consistently voted the best vegetarian restaurant in Vancouver by various local magazines and weeklies. It must be said that there are only a handful of these types of restaurants and voters get the same three choices year after year.
When I walked through the door the sign said "Please Wait to be seated" So I did and after a few minutes a server came to me handed me a menu and said "sit where ever you want". Hmm... Why did I wait? Another server followed me to a table of my choice (there were only two that were available for a single person) and asked me if I was ready to order. Hmm... I hadn't even opened the menu yet. He promptly turned away from me before I responded. That was the last I saw of him for over 30 minutes. After reading the menu, deciding what I wanted and reading a paper including the classifieds I finally got his attention again. I had to strain out of my seat and say excuse me as he passed through the section. He actually looked at me in disdain- like I was interrupting him from doing his job. Finally after getting to order, my meal took an additional 10 minutes. Not too long of wait and about what I expected.
Maybe it is decadent of me, but I want to have some mummy time once a week, I do yoga, get a quick lunch and run some errands. I don't laze over lunch or dawdle running my errands but it is nice to take a few minutes for myself each week and eat a meal that I haven't prepared myself.
I ordered the Naam's version of Thai noodles. Basically pad thai noodles in a sweet and sour sauce, with tofu, cabbage,carrots, peppers, sprouts and peanuts. The portion was huge. There is no possible way one person could eat that much food and if they can, they shouldn't. For some reason restaurants such as this one think you are getting good value for your money if you make the portion size super sized?! No, I want quality ingredients, good flavour and thoughtful portions. What I know of the Naam is that they use organic ingredients where they can, compost, and try to be sustainable. I may be wrong, but is not counter productive to be so wasteful? Faced with the immense plate of noodles that was my lunch I checked the time and reasoned that I would not be getting to all of my errands today, I would have to consolidate and prioritize.
My lunch had some residual heat possibly from sweet thai chili sauce but all in all it was flavourless- unless you count the vinegar that wafted up from the plate. There was ample cabbage - and why not? It is cheap, hard to over cook and has a good crunch; a nice contrast to the soft (mushy) noodles. The other vegetables with the exception of the carrot were hit and miss and the tofu was like trying to find a needle in a haystack. But I was hungry and had no time for anything else so I ate a reasonable sized portion, requested to take the remainder home and asked for my bill. Figuring how long it took to order in the first place I immediately got out my card, put my jacket on and collected my things. I was pleasantly surprised when he came back in a few minutes with a to-go box in hand, maybe my exit would be quicker than I thought. No such luck. He informed me I had to go to the counter to pay with debit with a nod of the head towards the kitchen... sure no problem.
Bill in hand I made my way to the counter, where there was another couple standing waiting to pay. We waited five minutes for some one to acknowledge us, even though there was staff standing in the kitchen door 5 feet away.... There goes another errand that I can't do.
All in all I spent over an hour there for a meal that I had to consume in 10 minutes. The phrase time is money, comes to mind. I am paying a babysitter to steal some time for myself and want to get some things done. It is insulating to me that this institution does not value my patronage enough to consider that while they are being ironic and cool they are wasting my time. Maybe I am missing something but I can safely say that this is the last time I will go to the Naam. I have had this experience one too many times and will no longer give them the benefit of the doubt. I truly do not understand why it is consistently voted Vancouver's best. I have never had a meal there that blew me away, was in any way revolutionary or profound and the service has always been slow. And yes, the left overs were terrible, ending up in the garbage.